Area lakes should be busy this weekend
It seems like the Bemidji area is getting its weather in one-month allotments, with each month totally different from the last.
April was warm, with record early ice-out dates on most lakes.
May was cold, with the lakes stuck in the same temperature range for weeks.
June was wet, with at least some rain nearly every day of the month.
Now, July begins with the hottest weekend so far this summer. The forecast is suddenly including terms like "heat-index" when talking about the weather for this weekend.
The Fourth of July Weekend is usually very busy on the lakes in the Bemidji area, and that usually goes double if the weather is hot.
There have not been many recreational watercraft on the lakes so far this summer, but that is likely to change this weekend.
The hot weather will likely bring out the water skiers, jet skis, water tubers and other types of pleasure craft, all wanting to get on the lakes to try and cool off in the heat.
Surface water temperatures in most lakes raised quickly into the mid 70s this week, so there should also be more swimmers at the beaches this weekend.
Summer fishing patterns on the lakes should develop quickly if the warm weather continues.
The water in most lakes is still very clear, but an algae bloom is likely with the rise in water temperatures.
The first time the lakes "green-up" each summer, anglers often see a dramatic increase in muskie activity, with some larger fish getting caught.
It often takes muskies awhile to adjust to the sudden loss in visibility from the algae bloom, so more muskies start to make mistakes and get caught.
When sight is limited for fish, they begin to rely more on their other senses to help them locate their prey. Muskie anglers often use baits that make different sounds, which hopefully help them trigger more bites from the large predators.
Single blade spinners make different sounds than double blade spinners. In-line spinners make different sounds than tandem spinners. Different shaped blades also make slightly different sounds.
Surface baits for muskies make a big commotion on the water, making all sorts of plopping and gurgling sounds.
Muskie anglers not only have to pay attention to the way their lures look in the water, but also have to experiment with baits that make different sounds, hoping to find something that sounds like a "dinner-bell" to the muskies.
Walleye anglers also use spinners on live-bait rigs to help walleyes locate their baits when the water is warm and the algae begin to bloom.
Bottom bouncers with spinners are a popular presentation for walleyes in many parts of the country. Bottom bouncers also work very well for walleyes in most lakes in the Bemidji area.
Anglers can use either a 1½-ounce or a 2-ounce bottom bouncer in most situations. Anglers using night crawlers usually have better hooking success with a two or three-hook spinner rig, while anglers using minnows or leeches usually have better success with a one-hook spinner rig.
Color and size of the spinner blade can make a big difference as well. It usually helps to have several anglers in the boat and start everyone with a different color spinner blade to see which combination is working best on that day.
Setting the hook on a bottom bouncer is different than a live-bait rig. Anglers don't have to "feed" line to the fish on a bottom bouncer rig. They can usually just set the hook immediately on a bite or dip the rod tip back slightly towards the bite before setting the hook.
If anglers are having trouble figuring out how to set the hook on a bottom bouncer rig, just put the rod in a rod holder and let the fish set the hook for you.
Speed is another important variable in fishing bottom bouncers and spinners. The most productive speed will usually be somewhere between 0.8 and 1.5 miles per hour.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.